STORRS, Conn. — Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun said Friday that he’s confident the NCAA will make changes to academic reporting rules before the 2013 national championships that would give the Huskies a chance to qualify for that tournament.
Under rules approved Thursday by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, the defending national champions would be academically ineligible in 2013, because the NCAA plans to use data from the 2009-10, and 2010-11 academic years.
Under the new rules, a school must have a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average of 900 on the NCAA’s annual Academic Progress Rate, which measures the academic performance of student athletes.
Connecticut’s men’s basketball scored 826 on the APR for the 2009-10 school year. A UConn official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the number isn’t official until next May, told The Associated Press this week that the score for the 2010-11 school year would be approximately 975.
That would not be high enough. It would give Connecticut a two-year score of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5.
Walter Harrison, the chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Academic Performance, said Friday that the body will be discussing whether to adjust reporting dates to allow schools to use their most recent data in qualifying for tournaments. For the 2013 men’s basketball tournament, that would mean scores from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic year.
“I feel confident that we’re certainly going to meet the standards that we need to meet,” Calhoun said after practice Friday. “And if it is somehow or other thrust upon us too quickly, I don’t have any great concerns about that because I know Walt Harrison. I trust him. I think he’ll do what’s right for the kids, eventually the NCAA will do what’s right for the kids, and we’ll go on.”
UConn freshman guard Ryan Boatright hopes so. He said he’s upset by the prospect of missing an NCAA tournament because of the academic failings of players who came and left before he was ever enrolled in the school.
“It’d make me mad,” he said. “I’d be upset because that would have nothing to do with what we did or punishment for us. But, we made a decision and we believed we’re going to be all right to come here, that’s why we came.”
Harrison, who also is the president of the University of Hartford, said he hopes the issue will be resolved in the next few months. His committee meets again in February. He said it’s not yet clear if a change is feasible, given the number of schools, programs and athletes involved in reporting data to the NCAA, the varying schedules of the schools involves, and the time-consuming nature of compiling the data.
“You want to be accurate about what you are announcing,” he said. “So the question is can we change the logistics with all these schools to be able to (report scores) in a faster way? We’re going to examine that, but I can’t tell you whether it’s going to change or not right now.”
Connecticut President Susan Herbst is pushing for the change. She reiterated Friday that she supports the new academic standards, but also wants to ensure they are fair to current student-athletes.
“We must hold current students and their coaches responsible for their actions, but cannot ask them to carry the burdens and problematic performance of folks long departed from the program,” she said in an email.
Harrison said there also will be discussions on whether to release APR reports for fall sports on one date and reports for winter and spring sports on another. He said that could create problems, because athletes would find out in the middle of a season that they have failed to meet eligibility requirements.
He said the NCAA’s job is not to come up with a policy that will be fair to UConn, but one that will be fair to all 6,100 or so Division I athletic programs.
“We try to think about a policy that will affect all these student athletes and be in effect for years, and not necessarily what one year’s situation is involving one school,” he said. “You’d drive yourself crazy doing it that way.”